Embodied Faith: Reflections on a Materialist Spirituality: Reflections on a Materialist Society

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Further research follows re: its symbolic meaning. In conclusion, if a symbol can represent a whole philosophy, as well as an approach, to the mystical path of enlightenment, then perhaps these symbols--from a number of different religious traditions--are a simple, visual way to do so. These symbols are also archetypal and thus communicate in deeper archetypal ways to our psyche or consciousness.

One might also note that many, if not most religions, are based not only on the idea of the unity or interconnectedness of opposites; they are also based on the trinity principle in which two opposites come together and create something new. This section will look at the role of mythology--especially as interpreted in the works of Joseph Campbell, and later Jean Houston--in showing a way to bridge one's outer life in the world with the inner life of the spirit.

It will also look at universal aspects of the "hero's journey" the journey to our inner selves in the myths of all cultures; the stages of the hero's journey; and East-West cultural and historical differences in the hero's journey. While some people living in our demythified Western world tend to think of only facts as true, and therefore myths as untrue or illusory, those who study myths note that they have a deeper type of truth to them, which attracts people in almost all cultures to them.

Culture, spirituality, religion and health: looking at the big picture

Indeed, mythology can be seen as a link between our outer lives in the world and the search for deeper, archetypal levels of meaning and purpose in life, which then leads to the inner life of the spirit. Therefore myths do not speak to us in factual terms, but in archetypal, metaphorical language. Joseph Campbell himself said that "myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation.

Myths can also help people realize how their everyday life can take on extraordinary or heroic dimensions via the way they choose to deal with these events, as often inspired by other heroic figures from mythology. In this he posits the idea of a "monomyth"--the one great story which underlies much mythology" from different cultures around the world. While the outer forms can vary from one culture to another, the deeper aspects of the journey are universal and transcend different cultures. His ideas gained a great following and popularity in the United States through the six part television series, "The Power of Myth," in which Bill Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell for public television.

In this series, as in other writing, Campbell encouraged people to "follow your bliss," meaning to listen to your own inner voices and follow your own dream, which will take you on your own hero's journey of self discovery and transformation. Jean Houston, who works with mythology in the tradition of Joseph Campbell, talks about "sacred psychology" where our "deepest fulfillment comes from experiencing union with the divine and bringing a sense of the sacred into our everyday lives"--especially in Western society which has become increasingly disconnected from the deeper "waters of life.

These three realms include:. This realm also serves as a cultural template, providing the primal patterns that take form as works of art, architecture, literature and drama. This is the realm that was revealed to Moses in the wilderness, for example.

They need the intermediate WE ARE realm of mythology and archetypal stories as a bridging place to prepare for the life of the spirit and to learn how to navigate through the various stages of the hero's journey. Houston, The hero's journey is basically a road map that shows any human being a pathway from the outer world of our everyday lives inward towards deeper spiritual dimensions.


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There are various versions of these stages. Campbell himself said: "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Another more detailed version of the hero's journey has five stages, borrowing on ideas of both Joseph Campbell first, and then Jean Houston, in each stage as follows:. Another version of this stage is that you hear an inner call to adventure, which you can either accept or reject.

Another version of this stage is that once the call is accepted, you will find allies to help you on the journey. Another version of this stage is that you must get past the guardians at the threshold, who represent the limitations of conventional thinking, which one must outwit if one is to be allowed to enter the realms of the creative and mysterious depths, where one will be tested. If you survive it, you will grow and be changed in the process, and you will be able to return to your society a changed or transformed person--whether your hero's journey was an adventure as Odysseus , a spiritual initiation as Christ, Buddha, Moses, and others , or the development of authentic mastery in some artistic tradition.

You will have received great boons, i. While there are, according to Campbell and Houston, universal aspects of the hero's journey in the myths of all cultures as noted above , Campbell and others also noted that there are important distinctions in the nature of the hero's journey--at different stages of history, as well as in Eastern and Western cultures. While we cannot go into these differences in any depth here, it should be noted that Campbell believed that there were four major mythological periods:.

Campbell and others have also noted important differences in the hero's journey as it is lived in Eastern and Western cultures. In the East, where a group identity and culture are more dominant, one must follow the path set before by one's guru, spiritual teacher or master, in an unbroken lineage passed down from master to apprentice, while in the West, where individual identity and culture are more dominant, the hero must embark on the hero's journey at a place and time of his own choosing.

In short, the hero cannot follow a path set by others, but must find his own path. Campbell believed that the best illustration of the hero's journey in Western culture was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, where each of the knights, in their search for the Holy Grail which search is basically that of the hero's journey had to enter the forest the unknown at a point of their own choosing.

Cultural Anthropology/Ritual and Religion - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

Campbell also believed that the hero's journey--if it is to impact people's lives-- must be adapted to the times and the culture in which this mythological story appears. Ancient myths or stories must thus be reset in new contexts and environments if they are to relate to people's lives today. In this context, it is interesting that the Star Wars Trilogy was George Lucas' attempt to take the idea of the hero's journey and adapt it to a space age environment, which may be one of the reasons for the film's great popularity.

If one looks at the five stages of the hero's journey outlined under Section 4 above , one can see how closely the Star Wars story followed Campbell's five stages:.

Only after he has passed this test, does the adventure come to an end. While Star Wars was a great success, it still glorified fighting and violence against evil , and as such is still not the best archetypal model we can find for creating a peaceful, nonviolent world in the future. Indeed, society seems more violent than ever. In looking at the role of the warrior image in mythology, such as Star Wars, a few observations need to be made:. First, it is important to point out that the hero's journey--even for the warrior archetype-- need not be violent. With the destructive power of modern technology, clearly our future survival requires that we find alternative ways to resolve our conflicts short of violence.

As Elise Boulding has noted, we can take the adventuresome energy of the warrior hero archetype and channel it consciously into nonviolent action in the world. Second, it is clear that we also need to find new types of hero figures, besides the warrior archetype today. Various books have been written exploring alternative types of archetypes, and this type of research needs to continue. Women, who identify less as a whole with the warrior archetype than men, are looking for such alternative archetypal images, which could provide models with which they could identify as women.

In addition, alternative, non-warrior archetypes also need to be found for men. Third and lastly, we need to remember that when we go to do battle in the world--the warrior archetype--that the real battle is really within oneself. Indeed, the external battle in the world is really a reflection or mirror of the inner battle within--to master one's own fears, limitations, insecurities and demons.

Once we can consciously recognize this, then 'perhaps' we will realize that we can focus our primary energies there, on developing internal mastery and balance, which can then be expressed in nonviolent ways in the world, and then we will not have to act out the warrior need to do battle in the external world in what has too often been a violent way.

Or if we must do battle in the world, we can do it against poverty, injustice, ignorance, prejudice, intolerance, etc. Certainly there are plenty of admirable battles that need to be addressed and they do not require violence as a means to engage in such efforts. In conclusion, this section has explored the possible role of mythology as a bridge between our outer lives in the world--what is comparable to the exoteric aspect of religion, with the development of an inner life of the spirit--what is comparable to the esoteric aspects of religion.

If mythology and archetypal figures can help us to embark on the hero's journey to discover and encounter the deeper aspects of our being, then perhaps nonviolent, archetypal models can also be found for our actions in the world that are appropriate to our technologically sophisticated and interdependent world for our actions in the world. If, for the sake of brevity, we oversimplify peace thinking, then it is possible to identify at least six broad categories of peace thinking which, in large measure, also correspond to the evolution of peace thinking in Western peace research.

This is not to say that all scholars once thought one way and now think another, nor is it to say that the majority of peace researchers now adopt holistic paradigms. Rather it is to argue that overall there has been a trend in peace research away from the traditional idea that peace is simply the absence of war towards a more holistic view, as seen in Figure Figure 4 summarizes six perspectives on peace in terms of the levels of analysis and theoretical focus that each includes.

The first perspective, peace as the absence of war, is applied to violent conflict between and within states--war and civil war. This view of peace is still widely held among general populations and politicians. In certain situations, it can be argued, this is still a legitimate objective, at least until the killing stops and it is possible to ask for more out of life than avoiding death in war. Furthermore, all six definitions of peace discussed here require absence of war as a necessary precondition for peace.

Quincy Wright modified this absence of war idea to suggest that peace was a dynamic balance involving political, social, cultural and technological factors, and that war occurred when this balance broke down. Wright argued that this balance of forces occurred in the international system--defined in terms of the overall pattern of relationships between states and International Governmental Organizations IGOs --as well as between and within states.

Wright also discussed the role of domestic public opinion within a state--which involves the community level of analysis.

Spiritual Materialism

His model assumed that any significant change in one of the factors involved in the peace balance would require corresponding changes in other factors to restore the balance. For example, Robert Oppenheimer, the much misunderstood "father of the atomic bomb," adopted Wright's view when he insisted on continuing to develop the bomb so that a global political institution, the United Nations, would have to be created to help control the new global military technology.

Galtung further modified Wright's view, using the categories "negative peace" and "positive peace" that Wright had first put forward some 28 years earlier. Galtung developed a third position and argued that negative peace was the absence of war and that positive peace was the absence of "structural violence", a concept defined in terms of the numbers of avoidable deaths caused simply by the way social, economic and other structures were organized.

Thus if people starve to death when there is food to feed them somewhere in the world, or die from sickness when there is medicine to cure them, then structural violence exists since alternative structures could, in theory, prevent such deaths. Peace under this rubric involves both positive peace and negative peace being present. Galtung's model in addition to the community, within states, between states, and international levels of analysis includes the global level of analysis, such as the global economy which is influenced by non-state actors, such as MNCs.

During the 's and 80's, a fourth perspective was ushered in by feminist peace researchers, who extended both negative peace and positive peace to include violence and structural violence down to the individual level. Brock-Utne, The new definition of peace then included not only the abolition of macro level organized violence, such as war, but also doing away with micro level unorganized violence, such as rape in war or in the home.

In addition, the concept of structural violence was similarly expanded to include personal, micro- and macro-level structures that harm or discriminate against particular individuals or groups. This feminist peace model came to include all types of violence, broadly defined, against people, from the individual to the global level, arguing that this is a necessary condition for a peaceful planet. The 's has seen the emergence of two types of holistic peace thinking.

How Marx Matters Today

Dreher, ; Macy,; Smoker, Here, as with the feminist model, peace between people applies across all levels of analysis--from the family and individual level to the global level. In addition, Gaia-peace theory places a very high value on the relationship of humans to bioenvironmental systems --the environmental level of analysis. Peace with the environment is seen as central for this type of holistic peace theory, where human beings are seen as one of many species inhabiting the earth, and the fate of the planet is seen as the most important goal.

This type of holistic peace thinking does not have a spiritual dimension, peace being defined in terms of all forms of physical violence against people and the environment. This sixth view of peace sees inner, esoteric spiritual aspects of peace as essential.

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Spiritually based peace theory stresses the interactive relationships, the mutual co-arising, between all things and the centrality of inner peace. In addition to the relationships of human beings with each other and the world--including the environment-- a spiritual dimension is added to Gaia-peace theory. This dimension is expressed in different ways by peace researchers, depending on their cultural context.